Throughout today, I was pursuant to examine the significance of the Golan Heights in the north of the country. It is well known to be a key strategic area that supplies the Sea of Galilee with one third of its water and overlooks the Israeli Galilee region as we were able to physically see from a top a bunker. It was captured by Israel following the Syrian attack in the 1967 Six-Day War. The next military campaign that unfolded in the region occurred six years laters in 1973 and was described to us at the start of the day.
We gathered outside in the blazing heat at one of the most crucial locations of the battle, Tal Saki, where a stone constructed bunker stood in the middle of a vast plain. Standing in front is us was Nir Atir, a 1973 general brigadier commanding a tank unit in the 7th Armory Brigade, who began narrating the events of the war. His story line was heavy with details about the tactics used, timing, and the positions he and his brigade took as well as the incoming threat which he pointed out for our eyes to see. It was one of the most spectacular and moving activities of the day as we placed ourselves into the bunker which Nir and a handful of other Israeli soldiers took shelter in for over a day and a half as they came to be surrounded by Syrian forces who sought to carry on and enter the Galilee. At one instant a fellow soldier exited the bunker to mark their surrender but was shot and killed by the Syrian army without mercy, while in another instant the Syrians threw a grenade into the bunker which landed below the body of a dead soldier thereby only injuring Nir and the remaining soldiers in the bunker. The IDF was ultimately able to repel the Syrian attack and retain full control of the Golan Heights saving Nir and six more in the bunker from death.
Our activities in the Golan Heights following Nir Atir’s narrative explained how extremely crucial it indeed was to push the Syrians back to the original pre Yom-Kippur War line.
For one thing, Israel must be able to ensure its security by taking a strategic area to uphold a stronger defensive post and it has every right to following constant wars and attacks being launched at her by the Arab entity on the other side. So long as no terms of negotiations are being discussed and fulfilled by the other side, Israel should be allowed to eliminate any threats that are made towards its existence. A more in depth overall history and geographic significance of the Golan Heights was shown at one point when exciting visual presentation of the region scaled to room size was displayed with the entire timeline and features of the area broken down into great details. It is important to note that since 1948 to 1967 the Syrians have used the area as a military stronghold from which its troops randomly sniped at Israeli civilians living in the Huleh Valley below. In addition, the Syrians rarely cultivated the land and instead called the Golan Heights the ‘land of rock’ believing that the ability to produce the land is unattainable. The Syrian claim was disproved when Jewish communities not too long after the capture of the area began flourishing and developing the land in ways not seen before. Furthermore, the group was brought over to the archeological park of Katzrin to realize that there has been a millennia-long Jewish connection to the Golan region. If this wasn’t enough reason already to annex the region as part of the state of Israel than the presence of a Talmudic-era synagogue and surrounding ancient stone infrastructure almost seals the deal.
With the current ongoing chaos in Syria which can even be spotted from the Israeli side, it is important to end the ambiguity over the Golan’s fate in order to help stabilize the region in the decades ahead. Although it was attacked in 1973, Israel’s policy has been one of advancement and keeping the peace since capturing the ridge, whereas this hasn’t been the case by Syria. It doesn’t take a whole lot of learning to know that control of the Golan is significant, and today has shown it is best in Israeli hands.